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Topic: Flourishes: Do they take away from the effect or give to it?
Message: Posted by: Nathan Hastings (Sep 16, 2007 04:41PM)
I'm sure that you're all impressed with my spectacularly concise title, but anyway, the age-old question: Do card flourishes really improve the way people look at you as a performer, or when people see you doing actual magic do they recall all the fancy stuff you were doing and just say, "Ah, he just has fast hands." Or, "Oh, it's just sleight of hand. I'm sure you've practiced enough to make it look good."

Now obviously people don't say that out loud, but there's a little internal monologue thingy.

So, what's the deal?
Message: Posted by: Ogre1234 (Sep 20, 2007 02:43PM)
Flourishes have their place. ie: a street performer trying to get some attention, auditions, etc. However, when I perform a card trick, I rarely do any flourishy stuff. I like to look natural so that when the magic happens, it's a miracle. I do find that flourishes take away from the effect.

Just my 2 cents worth.
Message: Posted by: stoneunhinged (Sep 21, 2007 08:22AM)
I think it's purely a question of personal style.

Consider doing this: wow a crowd with the fanciest flourishes imaginable, then switch to a marked, stacked, stripper deck. You'll do things they think are totally impossible, because sleight of hand can't explain them...but they *know* you're really good with cards, and assume you are using sleight of hand. They'll burn your hands during an effect where you make no move whatsoever, and later swear they were burning your hands and you made no move whatsoever. Because you didn't. Then you switch decks again and do some flourishing.

They'll find it all magical enough.

Jeff
Message: Posted by: Kex (Sep 23, 2007 09:31PM)
Just my two cents worth. I also agree that you should keep it natural looking... but now and then doing something quick like a cybil cut to reveal a card is nice. I just don't do anything overly fancy or movey and keep it quick and in context with the effect.
Message: Posted by: rjthomp (Sep 24, 2007 12:09AM)
I second Stoneunhinged's comments above:

Flourishes can really add to tricks that are gimmicked or self-working, making them both more entertaining and more mind-boggling.

In short, the more gimmicks you use, the more flourishes you need...

But in a slight of hand show, flourishes should mostly be used for revelations as Kex mentioned, or to show "when the magic happens etc." They occasionally help out with a story too, such as a gambling plot (though a real gambler of course would never go near them).

I guess everyone should suit their own style, but with most flourishes its very easy to cross the line from entertaining to showing off...

-Rob
Message: Posted by: 4Jacks (Sep 28, 2007 05:34PM)
They replace any effects.

At least for me.
Message: Posted by: Joey Stalin (Sep 28, 2007 06:12PM)
Most of it is only good to impress other magicians... A flourish can be the act which you convey the magic happens. But if you sit there doing stuff you get from cap cuts or devo then it does take away from the effect.
Message: Posted by: PatrickDonovan (Sep 28, 2007 07:20PM)
Flourishes can be great misdirection. If you are performing, for example, a one handed shuffle, everybody will be looking at that. Then it's time to ditch, load, or whatever else is needed. I always like to keep things simple and to the point, but I think if your personality is right, flourishing could add to your act. It's just another weapon in the arsenal, if you use it right it can be devastating, but if you use it wrong you're going to end up hurting your routine.
Message: Posted by: neoepicurus (Oct 2, 2007 01:03AM)
Depends on the rest of your character as a performer. It's all about consistency in my opinion. If you do a lot of flourishes, you can be "impressive" as opposed to "magical". If you do no flourishes, you'll create a magical memory for the spectator BUT they may not think of you much in terms of SKILL. I tend to keep my flourishy effects for sets of quick tricks... but for my longer effects, I keep them flourish-free so that specs don't feel I'm capable of doing sleight of hand, making the effects more believable.
Message: Posted by: Hawk-Eye (Oct 2, 2007 02:20AM)
It depends on what you call "flourishes".

In performance, I have no problem doing a pressure fan, ballet cut, ribbon spread etc. to add to the magic. However, there's no way you'd see me doing a crazy fast 5 packet rotation cut and then revealing the spectator's card is on top.

So, I think doing some of the flourishes that flourishERS/XCMers might do (eg. sybil cuts, flipback fan etc.) can take away from the magic.

At the same time, I think this notion of handling the cards sloppily like a layperson might, is absolutely ridiculous. As magicians, we do most things differently to other people...I don't see why card handling should be any different. It's all about balance.
Message: Posted by: neoepicurus (Oct 2, 2007 09:42AM)
Sloppiness is not completely ridiculous if you do it for comical or magical effect. Watch Lennart Green for example.
Message: Posted by: Hawk-Eye (Oct 2, 2007 01:51PM)
That's true - Green uses sloppily handling to his advantage with his comedic persona.

However, a lot of the time I see people with no real comical persona or anything, decide to handle the cards sloppily 'to make the audience less suspicious'. I've even heard of professionals refraining from doing a simple card fan, so as not to give a hint of the skills they possess.

I handle the cards very smoothly when I perform...no matter what you tell your spectators, ultimately they know that it's YOU causing the magic to happen.
Message: Posted by: rhucko1 (Oct 2, 2007 09:21PM)
Sometimes I like to do a flourish then say, "ok, ok, enough of the easy stuff..." - it usually gets a chuckle and is a nice way to get a response from the audience. It never seemed to hurt the magical nature of any of the subsequent effects either.

I do find that sometimes less is more in regards to not only magic, but in regards to using flourishes to add to the magic.

Thanks,
Rich
Message: Posted by: Ken Sibley (Oct 2, 2007 09:32PM)
In the beginning of a routine, flourishes help establish credibility. In between tricks, a flourishes or two (in order to arrange a stack, get a peek, etc...) can set you up for the next trick. Just don't over-do it.
Message: Posted by: harapanong (Oct 14, 2007 10:17AM)
I once explored how flourishes can be used in magic effectively, so I entered the flourishing world and learnt how to do them. It was an in-field study, and here are some thoughts I have.

Who said you have to use a lot? Flourishes in magic doesn't mean behind the back armspread catches or 30 packet Bad Habit Cuts (whatever). Flourishes in magic simply mean - GOOD HANDLING OF CARDS. That's all it is! It's just a subtle touch to the movements you make with a deck of cards. It's not meant to be done as a stand-alone thing.

Let me give an example:

When you turn over a card on top of the deck (e.g. revealing a card on top), instead of turning it over plainly, you may add a flourishy touch by adding a Card Pirouette.

Another example:

Instead of spreading the cards out between both hands to let spectators pick a card, do a Pressure Fan.

Do flourishes takes things away from magic? YES, if done wrongly. The "correct" way of doing flourishes in magic is about where you put them, and how much you put into your magic.

1. Flourishes in magic should be subtle, almost existing in the background. Like a lot of people said, people may remember the fancy stuff and forget the magic. Flourishes are just embellishments and fine touches to how you handle a deck of cards, NOT a performance piece. Magic foreground, flourishes background. They won't notice conciously that you're doing fancy stuff, but subconciously they know you're good with cards.

2. Put them in places where there's not exactly any magic happening. For example, selecting cards isn't very magical, so use it there. Making a card magically rise to the top by itself is magicial, so don't do a fancy cut, or they'll think its the cut that made it come on top. But then again, flourishes used as productions are very useful. But a general rule of thumb for me is that use flourishes when no magic is happening.

I never subscribe to the "sloppy handling makes them think its real magic" school of thought. Sloppy handling won't make any audience think its real magic. Instead, as someone has mentioned, flourishes can gain credibility for yourself in a stranger's eyes as someone who is professional and skilled in what you do.

Will flourishes make people think magic is about sleight of hand? Maybe, but it's up to your style. My style is more "magic's just tricks and fast hands, but you'll like it" instead of "i'm doing real magic", so flourishes fit me well. But remember: if flourishes are used properly in proper contexts (mentioned above), they wouldn't link magic with fast hands.

I am personally comfortable with people saying my magic is about fast hands and sleights, because that's what I wish to portray to my audience.

Experiment around. Actually learn some flourishes and try using them before making a judgement.

- harapan. magic!
Message: Posted by: skinnyJon (Nov 17, 2007 11:15AM)
I think it is important to keep flourishes in the context of your performance. Ultimately we are entertainers and there is a place for showing off your manipulation skills. In my (limited) experience, the spectator already thinks you are doing something tricky/sleighty with the cards, why insult their intelligence by pretending to be inept unless it is withing the confines of a comedic routine?
Message: Posted by: skinnyJon (Nov 17, 2007 11:16AM)
I think it is important to keep flourishes in the context of your performance. Ultimately we are entertainers and there is a place for showing off your manipulation skills. In my (limited) experience, the spectator already thinks you are doing something tricky/sleighty with the cards, why insult their intelligence by pretending to be inept unless it is withing the confines of a comedic routine?
Message: Posted by: Art190 (Nov 17, 2007 11:27AM)
I think it shows your skill and that you have been doing magic a long time. I think it adds.

Art
Message: Posted by: Art190 (Nov 17, 2007 01:44PM)
"If something deserves praise, give it."

I agree with what Mark said.
Message: Posted by: sean_mh (Feb 9, 2008 11:24AM)
When this topic came up on another forum, I decided that I would defer to my buddies Hugard and Braue, discussing flourishing in RRTCM:

from p. xvii of the Preface:

[i]"Complete naturalness of action, speech and manner is the essence of the art. There is a school of card conjuring in which the artist, by the mere rapidity of his actions, attempts to impress his audience with the great skill he possesses. We urge you to eschew this type of card work and instead strive at all times for a natural, relaxed, graceful handling of the cards."[/i]

from p . 37 (III: Flourishes):

[i]"Used in moderation [flourishes] are a decided asset to the card conjuror, but when carried to extreme lengths they defeat the very object that the magician should always have in mind, namely, that the effects he produces are done by magic and not by skill. A series of brilliant flourishes leaves only the impression of juggling skill on the minds of the onlookers, and the performer's feats are dismissed by them with the remark, 'He's clever with his hands'."[/i]



Sean
Message: Posted by: DanielMooncalf (Mar 10, 2008 01:50PM)
Look, folks...

Not to brag, but... From personal, professional experience, my awesome card fanning definitely adds to my already strong effects...
Message: Posted by: trashmanf (Mar 10, 2008 03:50PM)
Got a youtube channel of your awesome fans daniel?

I do agree though, and I think most people that talk badly about flourishes are just jealous that they can't do them.

every single time I have ever done flourishes in a magic routine, the people are hella stoked on them
Message: Posted by: magicwatcher2005 (Mar 10, 2008 04:35PM)
Most youtube magic videos start with the guy doing a bunch of meaningless false cutts and fancy cutts before he get into a bad version of his favorite card trick.
Message: Posted by: trashmanf (Mar 11, 2008 03:38PM)
Hey magicwatcher2005 ! I notice you're from washington, do you ever go to the pike's place magic shop?
Message: Posted by: Theodore Lawton (Apr 2, 2008 07:17PM)
I'm a newbie, so I'm thinking that one or two flourishes can only help my credibility.

I like to keep it simple, because that's all I can handle for now. If I have a small packet for the spectator to choose from I like to do a small fan for them. It just looks cooler than spreading them with both hands.

I'm practicing my full deck pressure fan, but not good enough to use it yet. I think it will be a good way to take peeks and show that "as you can see, this deck is in no particular order," etc. As well as adding that touch of professionalism.

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I'm considering all that you have to say and it really helps. Great forum.
Message: Posted by: Daniel Nicholls (Apr 8, 2008 07:53PM)
Depends on the trick. I wouldn't flourish if I was gonna force and reveal a card but maybe I would in a gambling demonstration like th 3 card monte.
Message: Posted by: Josh W. (Jun 2, 2008 10:46AM)
I say there's a time for flourishes and a time not to use them. Flourishes add flare to a trick, but also can take away from the trick if used too extensively. I recommend using from 1 to 2 flourishes per trick, if any. You don't want to over do it.
Message: Posted by: chicagoharry (Jun 4, 2008 07:21PM)
Flourishes set you apart from the proffesional and that guy with the cards that did a few "tricks". I agree that they should be used in moderation and should not be the highlite of your act. But they will set you apart and people will know that you are a proffesional at what you do. Now I usually perform flourishes between effects. Reason I perform in flourishes in between effects is so that it's done on the off beat. It's not that I'm showing off like, "look at what I could do." No I do it naturally to flow into the next effect. It helps build a routine as opposed to performing effects at random.
Message: Posted by: blackdeck (Jun 17, 2008 09:59PM)
It all depends on what kind of magician you are and what effect you are doing.
Message: Posted by: clarissa35f (Jun 27, 2008 07:21AM)
I think that there is nothing wrong with some flourishes. Presure fans, and one hand fans have their place. They can be misdirection. But also, it seems more elegant when offering the deck for a card selection for it to be from a One hand fan, as opposed top just spreading the cards out... I mean everyone's Uncle Larry offers the cards out between both hands, and is that the impression you wish to leave your audience with?

One hand fans, one hand cuts, ribbon spreads, maybe a fast 3 packet false cut. Something that shows you are competent with the cards. Something that displays elegance. Something that lifts you above the shoulders of every other Tom, Dick, or Harry out there.

But beyond a certain level I think that it may hurt the magic when you actually perform magic. I think Dai Vernon covered this when he told us to aim for simplicity, to make finger motions as little as possible. The less " movey" it appears, the more it has to be magic.

One set of flourishes that I feel can be added to a routine and not destroy the effect in my opinion. Card Productions, Fan Productions. Think Jeff McBride, I doubt anyone would dare say he does not look magical. He thinks of these as flourishes, therefore since he knows more than I, I agree with him.

But if between a few card routines you stop to do a split fan and card production routine for say 5 or 6 minutes, I doubt anyone will find your routine less magical.
Message: Posted by: mikeybionic (Jul 2, 2008 07:21PM)
I think flourishes give the spectator the impression that objects move magically when in the magician's hands.
Message: Posted by: Aleister Killerby (Jul 13, 2008 06:39AM)
When you show a magic trick with cards, no-one believes it's magic. Everyone knows both subconciously and conciously that it is sleight of hand, and an impressive display of skill in the form of deception. The reason is that if you had magical powers, why waste them on a deck of cards? But rather from taking away from it, that knowlege makes them love it. It's like seeing a soccer star juggle the ball 10,000 times straight. They love it because of his skill.

Flourishes take the deception part away and show the audience just how hard it is to do what you do, they appreciate it more because they realise how dedicated you are. Some flourishes and manipulations are still in the form of a magic trick (i.e. colour changes, productions, certain displays, flipback vanish, birdy fan) but look very difficult (which they are) and the audience credits the magician with the difficulty involved. Others are not in the form of magic, but are solely displays of skill and show the audience that, yes, you are a master of sleight of hand, but you are still entertaining. They know it's not magic, and seeing a well done flourish is like seeing a highly entertaining explanation of your trade. The audience loves it, feels satisfied, no longer keeps bugging you to explain them the effect because after what they have seen you can do with a deck of cards they know they probably won't be able to do it, and in my opinion flourishes contribute greatly.

Then there are the flourishes that are only a means to an end, such as the fan and ribbon spread. They are simple and direct in presentation, beautiful to watch, not highlighted as important in the act, and they help create a sort-of poetry in your magic. These are great to.

[quote]
On 2008-07-02 20:21, mikeybionic wrote:
I think flourishes give the spectator the impression that objects move magically when in the magician's hands.
[/quote]

Couldn't have put it better myself.

[quote]
On 2008-06-04 20:21, chicagoharry wrote:
I agree that they should be used in moderation and should not be the highlite of your act.
[/quote]

This depends on your act. Are you doing magic, or are you doing XCM, or both. Sometimes it can be a good thing to break free from the clutches of moderation. And unlike beer, they certainly shouldn't be enjoyed in moderation, but they should be used responsibly.

This is just my opinion, but I think flourishes, whether you make them the highlight of your act or not, are what make some magicians memorable and others not.

Remember a card magician is not a conjurer of magic, he is a master card handler, who can do anything with cards. Nobody believes that you are actually performing magic, why would you use a deck of cards if you had such skills. A good card magician is not remembered as actually being magic, but as being someone who can do things with cards that no-one else can (among other things), and flourishes reinforce this premise. Flourishes in my mind are like a 'teach-a-card-trick' trick on steroids.

[quote]
When this topic came up on another forum, I decided that I would defer to my buddies Hugard and Braue, discussing flourishing in RRTCM:

from p. xvii of the Preface:

"Complete naturalness of action, speech and manner is the essence of the art. There is a school of card conjuring in which the artist, by the mere rapidity of his actions, attempts to impress his audience with the great skill he possesses. We urge you to eschew this type of card work and instead strive at all times for a natural, relaxed, graceful handling of the cards."
[/quote]
This is very true, but how does it relate to flourishing? Flourishing is the skilful display of natural, relaxed and graceful handling of cards.
[quote]
from p . 37 (III: Flourishes):

"Used in moderation [flourishes] are a decided asset to the card conjuror, but when carried to extreme lengths they defeat the very object that the magician should always have in mind, namely, that the effects he produces are done by magic and not by skill. A series of brilliant flourishes leaves only the impression of juggling skill on the minds of the onlookers, and the performer's feats are dismissed by them with the remark, 'He's clever with his hands'."
[/quote]

I really disagree here (and I know that might cause an uproar). A man who can perform real magic would find it far easier than a man who has to replicate the effects with skill. Further, for the third time, the audience knows that magic with cards is skill (which can be poetic) rather than magic, and when you display a very high level of said skill the audience will love you all the more. If you pass off card magic as real magic, no-one will believe you, and you look like a trickster, even more so than if you present yourself as a trickster. Pretty much what our very own skinnyjohn said:
[quote]
I think it is important to keep flourishes in the context of your performance. Ultimately we are entertainers and there is a place for showing off your manipulation skills. In my (limited) experience, the spectator already thinks you are doing something tricky/sleighty with the cards, why insult their intelligence by pretending to be inept unless it is withing the confines of a comedic routine?
[/quote]

I hope what I have said is written well enough for your ease of understanding, if any of you find it confusing, let me know and I will edit what I have written.

P.S. - Let's not debate the difference between XCM & Flourishes, that needs another thread all together.

Aleister
Message: Posted by: jake.o (Jul 16, 2008 12:55PM)
If they are used at the right time in the right tricks they add to the effect but if they are used to much I think people believe that your doing everything so I think it makes it less magical
Message: Posted by: HarryTheMagician (Nov 4, 2008 01:13PM)
In the 'Flourish' chapter of Card College, Mr Giobbi talked of three schools concerning this argument: That of being very sloppy, so as to make the magic seem even more amazing; dazzling the spectator with endless displays of brilliance, to show your skill and that one, started by Dai Vernon, of being just in between: using flourishes carefully and treating the cards as an instrument. Is this not what we should all aim to achieve?
Message: Posted by: trashmanf (Nov 4, 2008 02:23PM)
Dunno, I would prefer to dazzle the spectator with endless displays of brilliance.
Message: Posted by: shak (Nov 6, 2008 06:26PM)
I think a good flourish can add to the effect, where as a bad flourish will take away from it.
Message: Posted by: Colin Mandel (Nov 14, 2008 01:00AM)
It all depends on your style. If you are the sort of magician who does stylish and highly visual tricks, then flourishes definatelly add. The same applies if you premote yourself as a card mechanic. If, on the other hand, you are the sort of magician who likes old school effects and methodology, then take Dai Vernon's advice.

Either way they definatelly need to be carefully structured and worked into your repertoire, or they will just look like you are showing off, and not as a means to express your love of cards and your deftness with them.
Message: Posted by: VictorCruz (Dec 3, 2008 08:19PM)
My personal take on the matter... I think that it really depends on the type of performer that you are. I mean the entire point of magic is to entertain right? Unless you are trying to convince your audience that you are ACTUALLY doing magic, it shouldn't matter if they think that you are good with cards. Their are many ways to entertain people, not just fooling them. And in the end isn't that what really matters? Not how much people are confused at the end, but how entertained they while they were watching.

How many times have you gotten out a deck of cards, and before you even fan or spread the deck, the spectator says "I've already seen this one"? I know that its happened to me... A lot of people don't like magic because they have all of these preconceptions about it. The first thing that lots of spectators jump to is "sleight of hand" (right after sleeving lol), and that is enough of an explanation for them. So if they already know that you are good with your hands, why not try to impress them further and show them something that they have never seen their "Uncle Joe" do at a family reunion?

Just my thoughts on the matter,
Victor Cruz
Message: Posted by: Colin Mandel (Dec 3, 2008 10:21PM)
If you think that flourishes make the effect less magical, well then why not stop doing riffle shuffles, and make it look like you are hopeless with cards. No-one believes your actually magic, so why pretend. I say do what you feel like, even if that contradicts my previous post.
Message: Posted by: Blackghost83 (Dec 20, 2008 05:54PM)
My take on this is that you have to judge on what the spectator wants. If you can tell that the spectator is one of those that will grab the deck or scream, "two cards!!", then you may want to use simpler tricks with flourishes to make them seem fancy. If you think that the spectator is very entertained by the end product of your magic, then keep flourishes to a minimum. Always be smooth with the cards.